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The Bar Man, by Jeff Hoyle, February 9, 2018




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Some of you may remember the reference work ‘Who’s Who’, the leading source of biographical material for famous people.

It is very unlikely that I will ever make its pages, but if I did I suppose my interests would be listed as beer and football.

This is well known to the small circle who send me Christmas presents, so it was no real surprise to receive a copy of Tim Marshall’s book ‘Dirty Northern B******s’ which explores the world of football chants.

Given that the subtitle is ‘Soft Southern B*****s’, I guess it’s named from a chant that is meant to be mildly offensive to those of us who hail from the north, though given the team I follow, too often it is a fairly honest description of the style of football we play.

What did surprise me was how few of the chants quoted made any reference to beer drinking, which for a certain section of the support base is an integral part of the match day experience. Indeed, for those who now watch games in pubs, it may be more important than the game itself.

When we go to an away game, our supporters are keen to establish their credentials as serious, drinkers, and also proud to come from the nicest part of the country.

The exchange often goes something like this ‘Whooo Are You?’ repeated several times. ‘We are the Bury Rambling Club, we ramble round from pub to pub to pub to pub….’

The locals are then informed that ‘Lancashire is wonderful, O Lancashire is wonderful, It’s full of beer and **** and Bury, O Lancashire is wonderful’. The more discerning may substitute the word beer with Thwaites, but since the Marston’s take over this may not be such a good thing.

That didn’t make the book, but the Sheffield United fans have adapted the old John Denver standard, ‘Annie’s Song’ to create the following ditty. ‘You fill up my senses, Like a gallon of Magnet, Like a packet of Woodbines, Like a pinch of good snuff, Like a night out in Sheffield, Like a greasy chip butty, Like Sheffield United, Come fill me again’.

It’s a long time since I had a good pint of Magnet, a beer I remember featuring in the vet series ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ but I guess it reminds people of the Blades glory days, which are also well behind them.

Not to far away in Boston, the words are slightly different, ‘You fill up my senses, Like a gallon of Batemans, Like a packet of Seasalt, Like a good pickled egg….’

For beer, that’s about it. With the advent of TV, more of the chants are becoming generic, and even matches I have attended abroad have featured familiar chants in the English language.

Still, you occasionally come across sparkling wit.

When Owen Oyston, then chairman of Blackpool football club was sentenced to six years in prison, the Bury fans spent most of the game singing ‘Oyston’s sowing bags’, but my favourite chant is probably in honour of former player Lenell John Lewis. ‘

“His name is a shop, His name is a shop, Lennell John Lewis, His name is a shop.”

After his transfer to Grimsby Town, his new club produced a hilarious spoof John Lewis Christmas advert, starring Lennell, which is well worth a look on You Tube.



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